Berlin and Milan - Volkswagen (VW) and Fiat Chrysler have denied a magazine report saying they were in merger talks.

Germany’s Manager Magazin said yesterday that VW chairman Ferdinand Piech had held talks with the owners of Fiat Chrysler, including the Agnelli family, its biggest shareholder, about buying all or part of the group that was formed this year from the merger of Italian and US car makers.

The magazine cited unnamed company sources.

However, a VW spokesman said Europe’s biggest car maker had no takeovers on the agenda as it was focusing on improving its own efficiency.

The Agnelli family’s holding firm, Exor, which owns a 30 percent stake in Fiat Chrysler, denied talks had taken place, as did the Turin-based car maker.

Shares in Fiat jumped 5 percent on the report, but by 4pm in Milan they had retreated to be 2.6 percent up on the day. VW’s stock was 2 percent lower.

VW chief executive Martin Winterkorn said in March that the group was focusing on integrating its 12-brand network.

VW has since sealed a E6.7 billion (R97bn) buyout of minority shareholders at Swedish truck division Scania to forge a long-planned alliance of its truck brands.

The report could suggest “diverging views” between VW’s management and the supervisory board, said Arndt Ellinghorst, an analyst at ISI Group, at a time when Winterkorn, 67, and Piech, 77, were soon likely to face a debate over succession. – Reuters